Saturday, March 15, 2008


According to the Stuff White People Like blog, one thing white people like is grad school. Now, I haven't always identified myself as "white" (racially, sorta, in that classic American mutt sense of the word, but I've never felt in step with mainstream whitebread American culture). I guess, though, if SWPL is as accurate in its depiction of white peoples' relationship to grad school as it is in other areas of satire, I'm certifiably white.

And certifiable here would be an operative term. As in, "Grad school? What are you, certifiably insane?"

When I graduated with my master's, I kept getting this question: "So, when are you going on for your PhD?" Sometimes it was in jest (from those who know me well enough), but most often it was a serious question from well-intentioned but nosy folks. My answer was usually an emphatic, humorless, "No."

Twice this evening I got a variation on the same question, "Are you going on for your PhD?" My answer? "Not right now."

Not nearly as certain and in no way as emphatic. It's almost coquettish how I say it, if I'm in the right mood. Six months of rebound from my master's, two months in a self-pitying unemployed funk, and however many odd days I haven't accounted for, and I've been entertaining the concept of more grad school.

Certifiable, I tell you. Completely certifiable.

I miss academia. I kinda miss teaching. I kinda liked teaching. OK, I liked teaching. Correction: I liked teaching at the university; community college, not so much. I know that now. And I know the game, the racket, if you will, that in order to stick around in academia--in order to have a chance at sticking around in academia--I need a terminal degree. I also know that as much as Romantic-era British fiction interested me, it's not a viable long-term interest. But writing is. Creative writing, if the growing document list is an indicator. To make a career of teaching and writing, to teach more than just comp, to get into literature and ideas and yes, the creative stuff, too--

It's madness. Certifiable madness.

I only had one course in creative writing, and that was unstructured. I'm thinking to go back and take a few, get a little more polish, a little more experience in having other eyes see my work, a little more grasp of form and style and voice. And if I like what comes of that, more school to gain more of the same. And another diploma, one that qualifies me for a shot at a full-time position in the hallowed halls of academe (I know the bleak odds in the field of English).

So help me god, I'm thinking to go back for more grad school.

I'm certifiable, I tell ya. Completely certifiable.


Shay said...

I have a master's degree. I got it for two reasons.

1). It was paid for (thank you, GI Bill and Mr and Mrs American Taxpayer).

2). I had just left the Marines and decided a two year decompression tank where I could learn how to deal with civilians in a relatively benign environment would be a good thing, particularly since (see item #1).

Shay said...

and I have to add, I took classes with a perpetual (non-Caucasian) grad student.

Her reason was a bit different; she was from a very traditional background and country. She told me that as long as she stayed in school in the US, she was safe from the arranged marriage that her parents had waiting for her.